When a groper lacks a tower or a limousine or a beauty-contest dressing room, he is liable to do his groping in the subway system, as allegedly was the case for 44-year-old Kenneth Jacobson of the Bronx.
Unlike a celebrity self-proclaimed groper such as Donald Trump—whose denial at Sunday’s presidential debate that he had ever “done those things” he was caught bragging about on tape prompted four outraged women to come forward and accuse him of groping them in the past—a subway groper runs the risk of being arrested.
Even as Trump was addressing a campaign rally in Panama City, Florida, on Tuesday night, Jacobson was being led into Manhattan criminal court for arraignment on charges of groping at least five young women over a five-year period beginning in 2011.
“Docket 715,” a court officer called out. “Ken Jacobson, step up.”
Jacobson stood before Judge Joanne Watters in a gray sweatshirt, black shorts, and sneakers, as might fit a man described by his lawyer as a “freelance ice hockey coach.”
Assistant District Attorney Charles Kee reported that two of the victims were 13, another 16, the others 18 and 24. The 18-year-old had snapped a cellphone photo of the molester. Her twin sister later saw it and said the same man had groped her some time before.
“Putting his hand under their skirt or on their vaginal area over their clothing,” the prosecutor said of the five alleged attacks.
That brought to mind Trump’s declaration on the Access Hollywood tape, “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” Kee described such behavior as was put forth in the criminal complaint filed against Jacobson.
“Forcible touching… sexual abuse,” he said.
Kee added that this “extreme and ongoing behavior” carried a maximum penalty of two years in prison. He asked that the judge impose bail of $25,000.
Jacobson’s lawyer, Howard Weiswasser, said his client denied the charges and had no prior criminal record and was sure to make all his court appearances. Weiswasser noted that Jacobson’s father was present.
“The father does have $1,500 cash with him,” Weiswasser said.
The judge had welcomed Weiswasser by holding out her hand and chatting with him as if he were an old friend. She was still not about to shrug off the allegations as if Jacobson had just been acting out some locker room talk.
“Bail is set in the amount of $20,000,” she said.
Jacobson did not look back as he was returned to the holding cells.
“He’s not happy being in there,” his lawyer said afterward.
At almost that very moment, the self-described groper seeking to be president was down in Florida, rousing the crowd with talk of Hillary Clinton’s supposed email crimes, which the FBI has said were not crimes at all but simply terrible judgment.
“People have gone to jail for a lot less,” Trump said.
“Lock her up! Lock her up!” his supporters chanted.
The chant had been heard at many previous rallies, but became ironic as well as absurd given last week’s revelation that Trump had been recorded describing sexual behavior that was undeniably criminal, the very behavior that had gotten Jacobson and any number of other alleged subway gropers locked up.
Trump denounced as false a New York Times article of several months ago, “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private,” that he said accused him of being “a little bit lewd” with a number of women.
“Then the women called and said, ‘I didn’t say that. I like him, he’s a great guy,’” Trump told the crowd.
But Trump avoided mentioning the Access Hollywood outtake on which he had talked about groping women at will. He was apparently not including women when he told the Florida gathering, “I’ve always treated working people of this country with dignity and respect.”
Trump might have been a subway groper insisting on his innocence when he addressed the accusations that he had made himself a lurking and intrusive figure during the second presidential debate.
“She entered my space,” Trump complained to the crowd. “I was very careful. I said, ‘I’m not getting near this woman.’ She walks, she stands right next to me. And the next day, they said, ‘Donald Trump entered her space.’”
Trying to obliterate any thought of Donald the Groper by presenting himself as Donald the Savior, he outdid even his previous demagoguery by proclaiming that leaked emails from Clinton’s campaign gave proof of a “criminal government cartel” in which she had secretly agreed “behind closed doors” to abolish our borders and “end forever the American independence our founders gave to us and wanted us to have.”
“American soldiers have fought and died to keep America’s freedom and now Hillary Clinton wants to surrender that freedom to open borders and open trade and a global government,” he said.
The candidate who had often professed his love for veterans was invoking their sacrifice as part of a gambit to make people forget that he had spoken about grabbing women “by the pussy.”
“The election of Hillary Clinton will lead to the destruction of our country,” Trump declared. “Make sure to go out and vote Nov. 28.”
He may have simply misspoken about the date, and later in the speech he got the right day of the election, Nov. 8. Much of the rest of his speech remained as willfully false as he had been when he and Billy Bush stepped off the Access Hollywood bus and strode smiling up to Arianne Zucker, who had no idea that the two of them had just been talking about her in terms too crude and demeaning even for a locker room.
The kindest thing that might be said about Trump’s supporters is that they, too, have no idea who he really is. But with the Access Hollywood tape and all the lies and fear-mongering and bigotry that preceded it, they must be coming to know who he actually is. And they must be so blinded by their dislike of the Clintons or their own psychic twists that they just don’t care.
“We’re gong to make history together,” Trump said to cheers on Tuesday night.
Up in Trump’s hometown, Kenneth Jacobson was in a holding cell, charged with serial groping, such as Trump had described with such glee, such as four more women have now described The Donald committing.
A good number of voters—in particular the many women who had been groped themselves—could not take the latest Trump revelations as just another concoction of the rigged media. And that was causing Republican leaders to suddenly rediscover a sense of decency and abandon him. Others were wavering, and here is what the pussy-grabber in chief’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said to them on ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday:
“Enough of the pussyfooting around in terms of, you know, do you support us or do you not support us?”
Her wordage seemed all the more bizarre when, later Wednesday, The New York Times detailed accusations by two women that he had groped them, one in the first-class cabin of a jetliner, the other by an elevator in Trump Tower. The Palm Beach Post carried similarly detailed accusations by a third woman, this one saying she was groped by Trump at Mar-a-Lago. A People magazine writer recounted an unwelcome embrace and kiss also at his Florida club.
All four said they had been incensed when they heard Trump’s denial during the second debate that he had ever committed a sexual assault such as he had described himself committing in the Access Hollywood tape. He can be sure that these women are never going to suddenly say the reports got it wrong and that they like The Donald and think he is a great guy.
Were it not for the statute of limitations, there would be only one thing to say:
Lock him up.